Best Cinema Cameras: Sony Venice 2 vs ARRI Alexa 35By Matthew Fresolone | August 22nd, 2022
As the never-ending discourse swirls about the best lenses--cinematographers need to choose among camera bodies. Sony and ARRI are among the most widely used cinema cameras in Hollywood. The Sony Venice 2 and the Alexa 35 stand out on the list of great options for filmmaking.
Best ResolutionThe Sony VENICE 2 8K takes the cake for the largest resolution among the two popular cinema cameras. The Sony VENICE 2 can shoot full frame, meaning that it produces images with higher resolution than Super35. In fact, when shooting in Sony’s X-OCN file format, the Venice 2 with its 8.6K sensor can capture 8.6K images. This maximum resolution of 8640x5760 pixels is possible in the frame rates of 23.98p, 24p, 25p, and 29.97. Just because the Sony VENICE 2 can shoot more pixels than the Alexa 35, though,--it doesn’t mean it is “better” by default. In fact, many cinematographers may find that the Alexa 35’s recording resolutions to suffice. The Alexa 35 can shoot 4.6K in both 3:2 OpenGate (for maximum sensor coverage), as well as ARRIRAW 4.6K.
Frame RatesAlthough the Alexa 35 can’t shoot large formats like the Sony Venice 2 8K—it’s capable of shooting in much higher frame rates. The Alexa 35 can shoot up to 120fps in 4.6K, whereas the Sony Venice 2 can only capture footage up to 90fps in one file format.
What this means for cinematographers
The different frame rates show that the Alexa 35 is more dependable for smaller-screen shoots, specifically digital media projects such as music videos or commercials. ARRI is the go-to name in modern cinema not only because of its technical achievements, but also its wide arsenal of devices. For those who want to shoot large format under the ARRI brand, there are a few other camera options. For example, ARRI sells camera systems designed for large format capture, such as the ALEXA Mini LF.
On the other hand, the Sony Venice 2’s lack of frame rates indicates that the camera is intended for more traditional, narrative projects. For example, The Sony Venice was used on large format films like Top Gun: Maverick, as well as the crime thriller Emily the Criminal, released by Roadside Attractions. For more frame rate flexibility, Sony has a line of famous DSLRs with incredible capabilities, such as the Sony A7S iii, which can shoot 120fps in 4K.Watch the trailer below for Emily the Criminal, which was shot on the Sony Venice with Kowa Cine Prominar lenses.
Form FactorThe Alexa 35 is more versatile than the Sony Venice, with the former weighing 6.4lbs, and the Venice 9.5lbs. DPs that need a lightweight yet durable camera system, such as wildlife photographers, may opt for the Alexa 35 because it has a wider operating temperature than the Sony Venice.
Interchangeable Sensor BlockThe Sony Venice 2 has an interchangeable sensor block with some novelty capabilities. Users can swap out their 8.6K sensor with the original 6K sensor, and the camera body automatically detects the hardware change and adjusts.
|A complimentary feature of the Sony VENICE, carried forward into the Sony VENICE 2, is the Rialto Extension System. This optional device allows the user to move the sensor up to 18’ away from the camera chassis. Visuals are transmitted through a hard cable, and the camera operator can film angles that were impossible before. The Sony VENICE 2 is compatible with the Rialto Extension system, but only with the original 6K sensor. Sony states it will release an 8.6K-compatible version of the Rialto Extension System in early 2023.||
The Sony VENICE extension system can move the lens up to 18' away from the sensor.
ImageBoth the Sony Venice 2 and Alexa 35 have similar dynamic ranges; the Venice 2 can shoot 16 stops of latitude, whereas the Alexa 35 shoots 17. However, these numbers aren't concrete enough to directly compare, and they don't always hold up to scrutiny. The best way to decide if you like a camera's interplay with light is to watch footage, yourself. In the below Venice 2 promo shot by Claudio Miranda, ASC, we see the spectacular displays of latitude through some daytime shots, capturing the bright sky alongside with long, deep shadows. In the dusktime landscape shot ( timecode: 0:58), we see that the camera body can render the sun's last daylight on the desert sky, while also preserving the highlights in a campfire glowing directly at the lens. ARRI recently unveiled a new camera space that captures more colors than both Rec 2020 and Rec 709 called ARRI Wide Gamut AWG 4. This color space, which debuted on the Alexa 35, is capable of capturing more greens, pinks, and blues than most other color spaces. This innovation, among others in color science, are part of what ARRI brands its REVEAL Color Science. Watch the ARRI promo below that showcases the impressive AWG4 color space:
ARRI Alexa 35 PriceThe base price for the Alexa 35 body is about $65,000. The Alexa 35 is sold in a few sets, such as the ALEXA 35 Production Set or ALEXA 35 Lightweight set.
Sony Venice 2 PriceThe Sony Venice 2 costs about $58,000 at retail value with the 8.6k sensor. It can also be purchased with the 6K sensor installed.
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